I WAS LEARNING
It was starting to look more and more as if the six months to a year I’d initially intended to stay in Costa Rica was a gross underestimation. After completing my first visa renewal, work and life started to show clearer patterns. I am very much a creature of habit. Living in Canada such a scattershot lifestyle of irregular sleep patterns, shifting jobs, unclear goals, wasn’t conducive to finding the inner peace and sanctuary I now know as habit.
This is not to the degree of obsessive, rather sinking into routines means that you can almost unconsciously take your bus routes to work and enjoy the scenery and splendor of Costa Rican mornings instead of watching intently for where to pull the magic string to signal a stop. You can prepare your lessons and enjoy becoming a student as much as you are a teacher. You can buy those six beers knowing that a given amount of money will fall into your bank account. You can leave your house within a window of time and trust that you’ll arrive at class before 7am. It’s this letting go of daily anxiety brought about by constantly struggling or unknowing and developing trust in a proven set of patterns you undertake.
Sometimes the cure for restlessness is rest.
This is where I think many expats start to show cracks in the seams. I’ve often said that expats have a built-in 4 month expiry date. If they don’t sour within the first 4 months and pull the chute, they will harden and develop and longer shelf life. I was amidst those very moments and thoughts that accompany them at this stage in my detachment from my ‘first world’ expectations. There comes a point in every expat’s journey that makes or breaks this enormous choice. (40% leave within the first year) For me, the X factor that sustained my interest in staying wasn’t the obvious – weather, beaches, cost of living, strong communities, cute girls.
What I loved about this place (besides the aforementioned perks) was the lack of safety net under me and the clean slate ahead of me. I had to borrow money from my folks from time to time, but for the most part, it was all on me. Succeeding in this career path was determined by sheer will, talent, and a little bit of luck. I’ve always defined luck as intention and preparedness meeting at the same time.
There was a great sense of satisfaction in my work. I felt appreciated in my job. I saw that I was having a lasting, positive impact on those I worked with. I began to envision growth, both personal and professional. I was learning. I started to like, and furthermore respect, me. When an expat has this kind of experience at the 4 month mark, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll be here a lot longer than one year. I’m coming up on the 6th.